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West Ham United manager Slaven Bilic a front-runner for USMNT job

Slaven Bilic could leave West Ham to become manager of the United States men's national team (USMNT), as the United States Soccer Federation step up the search for a new head coach.

A reliable US soccer source has informed talkSPORT that former Croatia manager Bilic is a leading candidate for the job, amid speculation surrounding his future at West Ham.

Bilic had a six-year spell in charge of the Croatian team, and his record in international football is understood to have made him a contender for the US role.

Appointed national team boss in 2006, the current Hammers manager was credited with reviving Croatia's fortunes, which had been in steady decline after the 'Golden Generation' team – in which Bilic played – finished third at the 1998 World Cup.

The US national team stand at a crossroads, having failed to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1986; a failure which cost outgoing manager Bruce Arena his job.

The USA's 2-1 defeat against Trinidad and Tobago cost them a place at the 2018 World Cup

Whoever succeeds Arena will be tasked with bringing through a new generation of talent, with only nine out of 23 players in Arena's last squad under the age of 30.

Bilic's work nurturing and promoting youngsters with Croatia – most notably Luka Modric – is said to be counting in his favour as front-runners emerge for the US job.

Promoted from Croatia under-21 to senior coach at the age of 37, Bilic brought through a new generation of Croatian players, qualifying for Euro 2008 and 2012, and embellishing his CV with notable victories against Germany, Italy and home and away versus England.


Bilic celebrating Croatia's victory over Germany at the European Championship

He moved into club management five years ago, coaching in Russia, Turkey and England, where he has enjoyed mixed fortunes since taking the West Ham job in 2015.

A tricky start to the season in which the Hammers have lost five of their first nine games has ramped up the pressure on the Croatian.

West Ham co-owner David Sullivan publicly backed Bilic before a 3-0 home defeat against Brighton last Friday, which left the Hammers in 16th place after the weekend's games.

"The manager has a three-year contract and is entitled to these three years," Sullivan told Sky Sports.

"After the season we will sit down and see if he wants to stay on and if he wants to stay on. That's a long way off."

But since Sullivan's comments, Sky have claimed Bilic "has been given two games to save his job".


Bilic with Luka Modric while on international duty for Croatia

Meanwhile, speaking to talkSPORT, Real Madrid midfielder Modric has backed his former national team boss to improve results at the London Stadium.

Modric said: “I am confident he has the quality to survive this. He is a great coach and I think he will get better results for West Ham.”

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